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General Principles of Medical Botany.

1. Botanical Principles - 2. Chemical Principles or Principles of Botanical Chemistry - 3. Medical Principles - 4. Medical Properties - Table of Properties - Concluding Remarks


First Section—Botanical Principles.

  • 1. BOTANY is the science and knowledge of vegetable bodies or plants.
  • 2. A botanical species is formed by the collective association of all the individual bodies, which have a similar form.
  • 3. VARIETIES are mere occasional deviations from this specific typical form.
  • 4. All the individuals of the same species, have the same forms, qualities and properties, but modified in some varieties.
  • 5. The principal branches of Botany, are, GLOSSOLOGY, NOMENCLATURE, CLASSIFICATION, DESCRIPTIVE BOTANT, BOTANICAL HISTORY and PHILOSOPHY.
  • 6. GLOSSOLOGY gives names or Botanical terms to every Organ of plants, and to all their modifications of form or structure.
  • 7. These names must be sought for in special botanical works; it is beyond this scope to notice them here, except in general.
  • 8. NOMENCLATURE applies names to every species, and successive groups of species, referring their Synonyms to each.
  • 9. These names derived chiefly from the Latin and Greek languages, become universal, and common to all languages and nations.
  • 10. SYNONYMS are of two kinds, 1. Erroneous or obsolete botanical names, 2. Local or variable Vulgar names employed by each nation.
  • 11. CLASSIFICATION teaches how to co-ordinate the species in Genera, orders and classes by methodical or systematical arrangements.
  • 12. GENERA are groups of species having the same essential Organs of fructification or reproduction, and affording the same collective characters in their structure and form.
  • 13. ORDERS and CLASSES are successive groups of Genera affording some similar general characters. Families, Sections, Subclasses are Divisions of these groups based upon some peculiar considerations.
  • 14. A METHOD studies, seeks and preserves all the natural affinities of plants, grouping together, those which have the greatest resemblance.
  • 15. SYSTEMS follow a peculiar theory, or are based upon a single consideration, without attending to natural affinities.
  • 16. DESCRIPTIVE BOTANY gives accurate descriptions of all the species and their varieties, Genera and Groups of Genera.
  • 17. These Descriptions consist of two modes or parts 1. Complete Descriptions, 2. DEFINITIONS or abridged Descriptions, being the analytical epitome of the principal descriptive characters.
  • 18. BOTANICAL HISTORY includes many details and considerations comprising the Etymology of names, mode of growth, time of flowering and seeding, cultivation, collection, discovering, introducing, authors who have described plants, their biography, bibliography or knowledge of Botanical Books, criticism, &c.
  • 19. The Locality of plants is a branch of Botanical history, which has lately been separated and called BOTANICAL GEOGRAPHY; it teaches the soils, climates and places where plants grow spontaneously, and also their migrations, naturalization, &c.
  • 20. BOTANICAL PHILOSOPHY considers plants under all their points of view, which are many; forming the following branches:
    1. ORGANOLOGY, studying their organization.
    2. PHYSIOLOGY—their vital functions.
    3. ANATOMY—their internal structure.
    4. CHEMISTRY—their component elements.
    5. PATHOLOGY—their diseases.
    6. CULTIVATION—their culture.
    7. UTILITY—their useful or noxious properties.
  • 21. The ORGANS are external or internal; the internal belong to botanical anatomy: the external or the most conspicuous afford the obvious descriptive characters, and form several series according to their vital use, as Follows:
  • 22. NUTRITIVE ORGANS are the Cotyledons, Roots, Leaves, &c. The ROOTS are commonly under ground, and the LEAVES above: while the COTYLEDONS are within the seed.
  • 23. REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS which are the Flowers, Fruits and Seeds, with the Buds, Bulbs, and Gems.
  • 24. Upon the flowers, fruit and seeds are chiefly based the generic and other general characters; being present and conspicuous in every plant except those of the lowest orders.
  • 25. The Roots, Leaves, Flowers, and Fruits assume a great variety of shapes, which have all peculiar names, and offer the specific characters and distinctions usually resorted to.
  • 26. UPHOLDING ORGANS such as the stem and branches, the Scapes or leafless radical stems, Petioles, Pedicles, Nerves, &c.
  • 27. PRESERVING ORGANS as the Barks, Cuticles, &c.
  • 28. CIRCULATIVE ORGANS which are the Wood, Liber, Pith, Fibres, Vessels, &c. The woody plants are called Trees or Shrubs.
  • 29. SECRETORY ORGANS, such as Glands, Pores, Hairs, &c.
  • 30. ACCESSORY ORGANS are the thorns, bracteoles, stipules, tendrils, tubercles, down, wool, &c.
  • 31. INFLORESCENCE is the mode in which the flowers are disposed and unfolded.
  • 32. The essential parts of the flowers are the STAMINA or STAMENS and PISTILS: a complete flower has both; when they are separate, the flowers are called Staminate or Pistilate.
  • 33. The essential part of the STAMEN is the ANTHER; when the filament or support is missing, the anther is called sessile.
  • 34. The essential parts of the PISTIL are the GERM or GERMEN, and the STIGMA. The germ is the bud of the fruit; it is usually sessile; when it has a support or PODOGYNE, it is called stipitated.
  • 35. The Germ is usually free and central; but when it is connected or coherent with the perigone, it is called adherent or inferior, and the perigone becomes symphogyne or superior.
  • 36. The STIGMA is a pore, gland or appendage upon the Germ, single or multiple, sessile or supported by a base called STYLE.
  • 37. The accessory parts of the flowers are the PERIGONE, NECTARIES and BRACTEOLES.
  • 38. The PERIGONE around the Stamina and Pistils is either single, double or multiple. When single it retains that name; but when double the exterior is called CALIX, and the interior COROL or COROLLA. In the multiple perigone, the inner range is the true COROL.
  • 39. The segments of the perigone and calix are called SEPALS, or folioles, and those of the Corol PETALS.
  • 40. The NECTARIES are Glands, scales, crowns, disks and other appendages within the flower.
  • 41. The BRACTEOLES are small leaves, scales, involucres, &c. around the flowers, when they resemble a perigone and surround many flowers, they are called PERIAHTHE or common calix.
  • 42. Plants being organized bodies like Animals, perform the same vital functions, three of which are essential to life, and common to all plants, 1. NUTRITION, 2. GROWTH, 3. REPRODUCTION.
  • 43. The others are less essential,or less evident; they are 1. Circulation, 2. Respiration, 3. Secretion, 4. Irritability, 5. Calorification, 6. Solidification, &c.
  • 44. Plants are also like Animals subject to Sleep, hyemal Torpor, Diseases, Necropsy and Death.
  • 45. The ANATOMICAL structure of plants offers a multitude of internal apparatus (about thirty kinds) formed by the aggregation of vessels, fibres and tissues.
  • 46. The principal are the Cellular, fibrose, glandular, absorbing, moving, vital, nutritive, reproductive, &c.
  • 47. CHEMICAL BOTANY detects almost all the simple elements in the vegetable substances: the most abundant and prevailing are however, Carbon, Oxigen, Hydrogen, Azote, Potasum, Sodium, Calcium, Sulphur, &c.
  • 48. The compound chemical bodies absorbed or formed by vegetable Life are very numerous, the principal are Water, Air, Oils, Acids, Aromes, Tannin, Extractive, Alkalis, Resins, Mucilage, Sugar, Fecula, &c.
  • 49. Diseases in plants are as numerous as among Animals, if not Men; they have only been attended to as yet with fruit trees, and useful cultivated plants; many are easily curable.
  • 50. Agriculture and Horticulture are two arts, having for special object the cultivation of useful or ornamental plants.
  • 51. These arts are closely connected with Botany, from which they borrow their materials. The general cultivation of medical plants in medical gardens is highly desirable.
  • 52. Useful plants have three kinds of properties, 1. Alimentary, 2. Economical, 3. Medical. The noxious and poisonous properties are included with the medical.
  • 53. We are dependent upon vegetables for our food and drink, our solid and liquid aliments; they furnish us materials for our dress, dyes, fuel, buildings, arts and manufactures.
  • 54. Every plant has two names and two characters, both Generic and Specific.
  • 55. The Generic name is the first and is a substantive, the Specific follows and is an adjective appellation.
  • 56. The Generic character is the collective definition ef the principal organic indications of each Genus, which constitute the TYPE of the Genus.
  • 57. The Specific character is an abridged description of all the individuals forming a species, and it constitutes the TYPE of the species.
  • 58. Orders and Families, Classes and Sections have also substantive names, and peculiar characters assigned to each.
  • 59. Three great natural classes constitute the vegetable Kingdon, 1. DICOTYLES, 2. MONOCOTYLES, 3. ACOTYLES.
  • 60. The DICOTYLES are VASCULAR plants, with concentric fibres and vessels, and a bilobe or multilobe germination. They comprise two thirds of all the plants, shrubs and trees.
  • 61. The MONOCOTYLES are VASCULAR plants with fascicular fibres and vessels, and a lateral unilobe germination. Such are the Palms, Lilies, Grasses, Ferns, and Mosses.
  • 62. The ACOTYLES are CELLULAR plants without vessels nor fibres, and destitute of lobes in the germination. Such are the Lichens, Algae and Fungi.
  • 63. These natural classes may be divided in other less natural classes, and these into natural orders and families, by the botanical process of analysis.
  • 64. The natural orders of Linnaeus were fifty-eight, Jussieu has enumerated one hundred, now upwards of one hundred and fifty are known or designated.
  • 65. Many of these being rather natural families may be reduced to about sixty-four great natural orders, including upwards of two hundred natural families.
  • 66. Each natural family and order has some qualities and propperties, common to all their genera, and may therefore serve of Medical Indication.

Second Section-Chemical Principles or Principles of Botanical Chemistry.

  • 1. THE knowledge of the substances which enter into the bodily composition of Plants, form a branch of Chemical Sciences called Vegetable Chemistry.
  • 2. This branch of Chemistry is intimately connected with Medical Botany, and becomes an essential part of it.
  • 3. By it, the three Sciences of Botany, Chemistry, and Pathology are rendered subservient to each other.
  • 4. Chemistry borrows from Botany the true knowledge of the Plants, while Chemistry teaches Botany the nature of the Substances in these plants.
  • 5. The Medical Sciences receive from Vegetable Chemistry the more intimate knowledge of the greatest proportion of Substances employed in practice.
  • 6. Chemistry acquires this knowledge by tests, analytical decompositions, and reaching the first Elements or elementary bodies evolved in the plants.
  • 7. Vegetable life assimilates or produces nearly all the Natural Bodies and creates many Substances peculiar to itself.
  • 8. This is the foundation of three great Divisions or Classes in Vegetable Substances or their proximate Elements.
    1. Class. MINERAL, common to plants, animals and Minerals.
    2. Class. ANIMAL, foreign to Minerals, but common to Plants and Animals.
    3. PECULIAR. Not found either in Animals nor Minerals
  • 9. These Classes may be divided into Orders, Genera and Species of Chemical Bodies, each possessing peculiar properties and actions.
  • 10. Vegetable Chemistry has not yet obtained the same certainty and attention as Mineral Chemistry. It is now emerging from the Clouds of ancient errors, and becoming a Science of decided importance.
  • 11. A small portion as yet of the endless chemical Constituents of all the plants, has become known.
  • 12. A long time will be required before the 60,000 known plants be analyzed, or even the 5000 Species of North America.
  • 13. But some Substances are common to many different plants, and each active Genus has generally the same active principles.
  • 14. The special knowledge of this branch of Medical Botany must be sought for in the Chemical Works. We shall merely give here a small Table of the principal Orders and Genera, lately detected and well ascertained.
  • 15. It must be remembered that every plant contains many Elementary bodies, and that these Bodies are all reducible to their pristine Simple Elements.
  • 16. It is not our purpose to designate the properties of these Vegetable Substances. This knowledge constitutes Medical Chemistry, a new Science, or branch of Pharmacy.

Chemical Table.

  • I. Class.—MINERAL ELEMENTS.—5 Orders.
    • 1. Order. SIMPLE ETHERIAL. G. Caloric. Light. Oxigene. Hydrogene. Azote.
    • 2. Order. SIMPLE and COMBUSTIBLE. G. Sulphur. Carbone. Phosphore.
    • 3. Order. SIMPLE and OXIDABLE. G. The Metals.
    • 4. Order. OXIDES. G. Airs. Waters. Limes. Potashes. Alumines. Chalybates. Silicates, &c.
    • 5. Order. SALTS. G. Carbonates. Citrates. Fungates. Muriates. Malates. Gallates. Nitrates. Oxalates. Phosphates. Sulfates. Tartrates, &c.
  • II. Class.—ANIMAL ELEMENTS.—1 Order.
    • 1. O. COMPOUNDS of Carbone, Hydrogene, Oxigene and Azote. G. Glutten. Albumine. Gelatine. Adipocire. Fungin, &c.
  • III. Class.—PECULIAR ELEMENTS.—4. Orders.
    • 1. Order. AZOTES or Vegetable Alkalies, containing Azote. 3 Families. Carbonits. Oxigenits. Ammonits or true Alkalis. G. Ferment. Narcotine. Asparagine. Morphium. Quinine. Eupatorine. Cornine. Daturine, &c.
    • 2. Order. ACIDS, formed by Carbone, Hydrogene, with Oxigene in excess. G. Acetic. Malic. Oxalic. Benzoic. Citric. Tartaric. Gallic. Moric. Fungic, &c.
    • 3. Order. WATERS, formed by Carbone with Hydrogene and Oxigene in the proportion of Water. G. Lignites. Fecules. Saccharines. Gums. Amarines. Polychromites. Tannines. Extractives. Mucilages. &c.
    • 4. Order. OILS, formed by Carbone, Oxigene, with Hydrogene in excess. G. Gluines. Wax. Fixed Oils. Aromes. Resins. Picrines. Acrines. Camphors, &c.

Third Section—Medical Principles.

  • 1. Every vegetable substance produces effects on the human frame; but these effects can only take place by actual contact of the parts, or their effluvia.
  • 2. These effects are either grateful, or unpleasant, or noxious, and either nutritive, or medical, or poisonous.
  • 3. Nutritive substances sustain life, the noxious impair it; while the medical preserve or restore health.
  • 4. Plants may be noxious to man, while they are innocent or nutritious for animals or cattle, and the reverse may as often occur.
  • 5. The popular belief that every country produces simples suitable to cure all their prevailing local diseases, is not devoid of truth.
  • 6. There are many modes of effecting cures by equivalent remedies; but vegetable substances afford the mildest, most efficient, and most congenial to the human frame.
  • 7. A vegetable substance is called active when producing strong or quick effects, and inactive or inert, when producing weaker or slower effects.
  • 8. But there is hardly a plant totally inert, and not producing in large doses some sensation or effect.
  • 9. Active plants and substances are commonly known by the senses of smell or taste: while inert plants ate scentless and tasteless.
  • 10. The most active plants are not always the best for use, being less grateful than others, and more liable to impair the functions of life.
  • 11. Poisonous plants are all available as medicinal, and often the most active; but they are liable to the same objection, in a greater degree.
  • 12. Active and poisonous plants, must be used with care and judgment, sparingly and in small doses only.
  • 13. Similar or consimilar tastes or smells, indicate similar or consimilar Qualities and Properties.
  • 14. The sensible Qualities of plants are the results of their organization, and chemical composition; their medical Properties arise from these Qualities.
  • 15. Plants of the same Genus have commonly the same qualifies and properties, more or less unfolded.
  • 16. Genera of the same Natural Family or Order, have often consimilar qualities and properties.
  • 17. Modifications or Deviations from these two last rules occur when the organization and locality are very different.
  • 18. Artificial Systems, like the sexual system of Linnaeus separating the most related Genera, and uniting the most remote, cannot indicate medical affinities.
  • 19. Where the artificial systems coincide with the natural method; they may both answer the purpose of medical indications.
  • 20. Few plants possess a single property; many are commonly blended in the same plant.
  • 21. Different parts of a plant have often separate qualities and properties.
  • 22. Incompatible Substances are seldom or never found in the same plant.
  • 23. Every plant has a peculiar and specific mode of action on the human body, in health or disease.
  • 24. Even congeneric and consimilar species have their modified effects at equal doses, which a difference in the dose may equalize.
  • 25. The medical effects of the same plant are also modified by the soil, climate, season, and age; also by exhibition and dose.
  • 26. Botanical affinities indicate medical equivalents, which may be substituted to each other.
  • 27. But Experience alone can decide if the substitution will be available and efficacious, and teach when and how it ought to be made.
  • 28. Vegetable Equivalents are either botanical or medical, and each of three degrees.
  • 29. In Botanical Equivalents these three degrees are:
    1st COSGENERIC, belonging to the same genus:
    2d AFFILIATED belonging to different genera of the same family.
    3d REMOTE, belonging to remote genera.
  • 30. Medical Equivalents have the degrees of
    1. SPECIFIC or having exactly the same value,
    2. SIMILAR or producing the same effects,
    3. CONSIMILAR or producing effects somewhat different.
  • 31. EVERY MEDICAL PLANT IS A COMPOUND MEDICINE PREPARED BT THE HANDS OF NATURE, in the most suitable form for exhibition and efficacy in suitable cases.
  • 32. Medical substances becoming more powerful by admixture, those which enter by vital action into the organs of plants, are rendered more powerful by intimate combination.
  • 33. By combining several medical plants in prescriptions their effect is increased.
  • 34. Nauseous or noxious plants may be rendered grateful and available by combination with others of a different character.
  • 35. But all combinations must either coincide or correct each other, else they are superfluous and useless.
  • 36. When too many substances are mingled, or several that do not well coincide, they often impair each other.
  • 37. The combination of substances which exert a chemical action on each other, must be avoided, unless a peculiar medical result is required.
  • 38. When an unexpected result happens by a combination of substances, it must be corrected by suitable changes.
  • 39. The active principles of medical plants may be obtained in a concentrated form by chemical operations.
  • 40. When these active principles are obtained, their effects are stronger and quicker; but less congenial to the human frame, than in their natural pristine combination.

Fourth Section—Medical Properties.

  • 1. The medical properties were detected by chance, or ascertained by indication, and confirmed by experience.
  • 2. There are four kinds of indications, 1. Botanical, 2. Chemical, 3. Medical, 4. Evident.
  • 3. Botanical indications have already been alluded to, they are proximate or remote, and teach us Botanical Equivalents.
  • 4. Chemical indications result from analysis and decomposition: when the same elements and substances are found in equal proportions; the presumption must be that chemical equivalents have been detected.
  • 5. Medical indications are the result of medical inference; when substances act alike or produce similar effects in some cases, they may do the same in other cases.
  • 6. The most obvious indications are however, those which arise from the EVIDENCE of the sensible qualities of plants.
  • 7. These qualities are constituted by chemical elements, and evinced to our senses by contact or effluvia.
  • 8. Each plant, and sometimes each part of a plant, has a peculiar smell and taste, hardly alike in any two of them.
  • 9. No plant is absolutely scentless or tasteless, even the most insipid evince themselves to our nose and palate.
  • 10. The vegetable Orders and Sapors may be classed under two great divisions, GRATEFUL or UNPLEASANT.
  • 11. Orders may be further divided into six series, and one hundred and fifty Genera: Sapors into ten series and as many genera at least.
  • 12. The GRATEFUL Odors or Smells indicate wholesome properties, the three Series are
    1. FRAGRANT, indication of stimulants and sudorifics, &c.
    2. AROMATIC—of stomachics, warm stimulants, &c.
    3. SWEET—of Pectorals, Demulcents, &c.
  • 13. The UNPLEASANT Odors indicate active properties, their three Series are
    1. FETID, indication of noxious plants, emetics, &.c.
    2. GRAVEOLENT—of powerful medical plants.
    3. INSIPID—of Emollients, inert plants, &c.
  • 14. GRATEFUL SAPORS or Tastes, belong to plants of mild properties. Their five Series are
    1. FLAVORED, belonging to palatable substances.
    2. SPICY—to stimulants, sudorifics, stomachics; &c.
    3. ACID—to Refrigerants, Diluents, &c.
    4. SWEET—to Nutrients, Demulcents, &c.
    5. SAPIE or SALTISH—to Antiscorbutics, &c.
  • 15. UNPLEASANT SAPORS belong to plants of active properties. Their five Series are
    1. NAUSEOUS, belonging to Narcotics, Emetics, Cathartics, Antispasmodics, &c.
    2. ACRID—to Salivatories, Stimulants, Epispastics, Anthelminthics, Emenagogues, &c.
    3. BITTER—to Tonics, Corroborants, &c.
    4. ACERB—to Astringents, Diuretics, &c.
    5. INSIPID—to Emollients, Demulcents, Diluents, &c.
  • 16. The sense of feeling is susceptible of ascertaining at least five qualities in substances.
    1. COOLNESS, belonging to Refrigerants.
    2. HEAT—to Stimulants and Rubefacients.
    3. STINGING—to external stimulants.
    4. VESICATION—to Epispatics, &c.
    5. CORROSION—to Escharotics, and Caustics.
  • 17. These different qualities variously combined and modified by each other, form all the immense variety perceptible in plants.
  • 18. Medical Properties of a corresponding nature being coexistent with these sensible qualities, are obviously indicated by them.
  • 19. Yet some plants of weak qualities and seemingly inert, are often possessed of unindicated active properties, resulting from chemical combinations or gazeous emanations.
  • 20. Classifications of medical properties and remedies are endless, and of little use. Every writer on Materia Medica commonly contrives a new one.
  • 21. As much could be done here, or some one adopted; but it will be sufficient to mention that the most general Distribution is at present in three Classes, 1 STIMULANT, 2 CHEMICAL, and 3 MECHANICAL Properties or Remedies.
  • 22. The following alphabetical Glossary of the principal medical properties, will probably be more useful for reference.

Table of Properties

  • ABSORBENT, absorbing or involving noxious matter.
  • ABSTERGENT or DETERGENT, cleaning foul ulcers and sores.
  • ANODYNE, soothing the nerves, allaying pain, very similar to Sedative and Nervine.
  • ANTACID, chemical remedies, neutralizing Acids.
  • AGGLUTINANT, uniting divided solids.
  • ALTERATIVE, producing a change in the whole system, or altering the appearance of local diseases.
  • AMBROSIAL, of exquisite smell or taste, very palatable and restorative.
  • ANALEPTIC, gentle stimulant of the nerves.
  • ANTIBILIOUS, correcting the Bile.
  • ANTIDOTE or ALEXITERIAL, commonly counter poisons, chemical remedies correcting the effects of poisons.
  • ANTI-DYSENTERIC, against dysentery and bowel complaints, local and mechanical, unless astringent.
  • ANTILITHIC, curing the gravel and stone.
  • ANTISPASMODIC, diffusible stimulant, acting on the muscles, curing spasms, pains, &c.
  • ANTHELMINTIC, expelling worms.
  • ANTISCORBUTIC, useful in scurvy.
  • ANTISCROFULOUS, useful in scrofula.
  • ANTEROTIC, sedatives of venery.
  • ANTISEPTIC or ANTIPUTRID, Tonic useful to prevent external or internal mortification.
  • ANTALKALINE, neutralizing alkalies.
  • APERIENT, promoting excretions.
  • APHRODISIAC, stimulating Venery.
  • AROMATIC, diffusible stimulant, heating the stomach and body.
  • ASTRINGENT, permanent stimulant, corrugating the fibres.
  • ATTENUANT, or DEOBSTRUENT, local stimulant, removing obstructions of the glands, liver, &c.
  • BALSAMIC, mild healing stimulant.
  • CALEFACIENT, local stimulant, heating the parts.
  • CARMINATIVE, or RUCTANT, local stimulant, expelling winds.
  • CARDIAC or CORDIAL, acting on the heart, and increasing its muscular action.
  • CATHARTIC or PURGATIVE, local stimulants cleaning the bowels.
  • CAUSTIC, local stimulants, burning the parts.
  • CEPHALIC, curing the head ache.
  • CHOLOGOGUE, purging the bile.
  • CONSOLIDANT, a kind of tonic, repairing defects in solids.
  • CORROBORANT, a kind of stomachic, giving strength.
  • COSMETIC, smoothing or lubricating the skin.
  • DEMULCENT, mechanical remedy, shielding the surfaces from acrid matter, and lubricating the organs.
  • DEPILATORY, removing the hair.
  • DIAPHORETIC, increasing the insensible exhalation of the skin and lungs.
  • DIFFUSIBLE, spreading through the whole frame.
  • DILUENTS, diluting and expelling morbific matter, increasing the fluidity of the blood, &c.
  • DISCUTIENT, healing sores of the skin.
  • DIURETIC, stimulant, increasing the discharge from the bladder and kidneys, expelling accumulated fluids, and promoting dropsical discharges.
  • DRASTIC, cathartics purging with violence and pain.
  • EFFLUVIAL, producing gazeous emanations which affect the skin.
  • EMENAGOGUE, increasing the menstrual discharge.
  • EMETIC or VOMITIVE, local stimulant producing a discharge from the stomach.
  • EMOLLIENT, the opposite of tonic, relaxing the fibres.
  • EPISPASTIC or BLISTER, local stimulant, acting on the skin and membranes, blistering them, &c.
  • ERODENT, removing spots and warts of the skin.
  • ERRHINE, promoting sneezing and a discharge from the nose.
  • ESCHAROTIC, corroding and decomposing the skin and other solids.
  • EXHANTHEMATIC, useful for Exhanthems.
  • EXHAURIENT, exhausting vital powers.
  • EXCITANT, stimulant exciting the vital functions.
  • EXPECTORANT, promoting expectoration.
  • FEBRIFUGE, curing fevers, one of the effects of tonics.
  • HEPATIC, useful in diseases of the Liver.
  • HUMECTANT, a kind of Diluent moistening the solids.
  • HYDRAGOGUE, a kind of Diuretic, discharging waters.
  • INCITANT or INCISIVE, stimulant, acting on the glandular system.
  • INEBRIATING or EXHILARATING, producing intoxication in different degrees.
  • INVISCANT or COAGULANT, mucilagiaous remedies, thickening the fluids.
  • LAXATIVE, useful against constipation and mild purgatives.
  • LITHONTHRIPTIC, chemical remedy, dissolving the gravel or stone in the bladder, or bezoars of the liver.
  • LOCHIAL, a mild Menagogue.
  • NARCOTIC or STUPEFIANT, diffusible stimulant, acting on the nervous and vascular system, producing sleep, stupor and death in large doses.
  • NAUSEANTS, producing Nausea without Emesis.
  • NEPHRITIC, local stimulant of the kidneys.
  • NERVINE, acting particularly on the nerves, and soothing pain, promoting sleep, useful in hysterics, epilepsy, &c.
  • NOXIOUS or DELETERIOUS, or PERNICIOUS, or BANETUL, or VENOMOUS, all Synonymous of POISONS, producing pain, disease or Death.
  • NUTRIENT, furnishing nourishment to the body.
  • ODONTALGIC, allaying or curing the tooth-ache.
  • OPHTHALMIC, useful in diseases of the Eyes.
  • PECTORAL, useful in diseases of the breast and lungs.
  • PELLENT or REPELLENT, charging the course of discharges, or repelling the morbid fluids.
  • PHTHIRIAC or PSORIC, destroying Lice and Itch.
  • PHRENETIC or PHANTASTIC, acting on the brain, producing delirium and dreams.
  • PROPELLENT, moving the fluids.
  • PROPHYLACTIC, preserving health, or preventic, a peculiar disease.
  • REFRIGERANT, cooling, lessening the heat of the body, allaying local or general inflammations.
  • RESTORATIVE, restoring strength.
  • REVIVING, diffusible stimulant, relieving from faintiiess, torpors, and necropsy.
  • REPERCUSIVE, throwing back an eruption, a kind of repellent.
  • REVULSIVE, a local stimulant, promoting a change or revulsion in a disease.
  • RUBEFASCIENT, topical remedy, exciting redness and heat.
  • SEDATIVE, allaying inordinate motions and pains, by lessening the action of the heart and circulation of the blood.
  • SIALOGOGUE or SALIVATORY, exciting salivation.
  • SOLVENT or RESOLVENT, a kind of Diluent, promoting solution of the solids, acting on the lymphatic system, useful in scrofula, &c.
  • SOPORIFIC or HYPNOTIC, promoting sleep.
  • SORBEFACIENT, raising pimples, &c.
  • SPECIFIC, a remedy supposed to act especially on a disease.
  • STIMULANT, acting by stimulating the body or some parts of it.
  • STINGING, acting like nettles by producing a burning pain.
  • STOMACHIC, promoting appetite, useful in diseases of the stomach, and cholics.
  • STYPTIC, stoping bloody discharges.
  • SUDORIFIC, promoting a copious perspiration.
  • SUPPURATIVE or RESOLUTIVE, promoting suppuration of ulcers, tumors, &c.
  • SYPHILITIC, useful in syphilis and venereal diseases.
  • TONIC, permanent stimulant, acting on the whole body, increasing the tone of the fibres, &c.
  • TOPICAL, a remedy acting by external application.
  • UTERINE, acting on the uterus.
  • URETHRAL or STRANGURIAL, a local stimulant, acting on the Urethra, producing Strangury, &c.
  • VIRULENT, of strong active properties, producing powerful and somewhat noxious effects.
  • VULNERARY, healing wounds and sores.

Additions and corrections

Other Medical Properties

ABORTIVE, producing abortion.
ANTI-EMETIC, preventing nausea and emesis.
ANTILACTEAL, draining the milk in the breast.
BECHIC, serviceable against cough.
COSMETIC, softening the skin.
ECCOPROTIC, remedy for the gout.
HERPETIC, against ring-worms, &c.
LACTEAL, promoting the lacteal secretion.
OFFICINAL, medical substances in general kept in pharmacies.


Concluding Remarks.

  • 1. Physicians do not agree on the mode of action of the properties, nor the proximate and intricate operation of remedies; but the ultimate effects and results being ascertained, they are sufficient for practical use.
  • 2. Drugs are Vegetable substances prepared for use, and kept for sale by Druggists or Pharmacians.
  • 3. Those which are imported, are often adulterated, or inferior kinds are substituted; for instance Peruvian Bark or CINCHONA, and Saffron or CROCUS, are hardly to be met with in the U. S.—Caribean bark or PORTLANDIA, and Bastard Saffron or CARTHAMUS, are usually sold instead, which are very weak substitutes.
  • 4. This arises from a want of medical inspections and officinal knowledge: the results are, that prescriptions fail, physicians are disappointed, and patients suffer.
  • 5. To avoid in part these evils, it is desirable to employ our own genuine medical substances, whenever they afford sufficient remedies and suitable equivalents.
  • 6. Medical substances being often impaired by age, it is desirable to obtain them fresh, or in yearly rotation.
  • 7. Fresh and genuine substances can only be obtained at all times from medical gardens, or honest dealers.
  • 8. The best medical gardens in the United States are those established by the Communities of SHAKERS, or modern Essenians, who cultivate or collect about one hundred and fifty kinds of medical plants.
  • 9. They sell them cheap, fresh and genuine, in a compact and portable form. Pharmacians would do well to supply themselves with them, or to imitate their useful industry.
  • 10. Several of our medical plants and drugs are already an object of trade to Europe and elsewhere. Many more may become in demand, when their valuable properties will be better known.
  • 11. A new branch of trade may thus be opened, which it is our duty to encourage, by collecting and cultivating our medical plants.
  • 12. Herbalists and Collectors are often ignorant and deceitful. The best way to prevent their frauds and correct their blunders is, by enlightening them, adopting botanical names, and refusing spurious drugs.

Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, 1828, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.



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